Accused leader of McDonald's fraud gave $1 million to hospital

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2001

ATLANTA (AP) -- A man accused of stealing millions in a McDonald's contest scheme apparently gave a $1 million gift to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, CNN reported Tuesday.

Jerome ''Jerry'' Jacobson sent the Memphis, Tenn., hospital the winning game piece nearly six years ago.

St. Jude spokesman George Shadroui said the ''Instant Winner'' game piece arrived in a plain white envelope with a Dallas postmark and no return address.

McDonald's verified the $1 million game piece from its Monopoly contest, waived contest rules that required such pieces be redeemed only by winners and agreed to pay St. Jude $50,000 a year for 20 years.

Shadroui said the hospital has been receiving the payments since 1996.

Jacobson, 58, was among 21 people indicted Monday in the alleged conspiracy. Federal prosecutors charged the ring's members with mail fraud.

The indictment alleges that since the late 1980s Jacobson, director of security for Simon Marketing Inc., embezzled more than $20 million worth of winning McDonald's game pieces from his employer. McDonald's had contracted with Simon to run its Monopoly games.

Jacobson distributed the winning game pieces to accomplices who redeemed them or recruited others to redeem them for prizes, some worth as much as $1 million, the indictment said.

According to CNN, both prosecution and defense sources confirmed that Jacobson was behind the contribution. Jacobson was in Dallas on Nov. 24, 1995, the date the envelope containing the winning card was postmarked.

Prosecution sources said they would argue Jacobson mailed the game piece to St. Jude only after he had failed to recruit a cohort to cash it in before the contest deadline expired, the network reported.

''We'll live with whatever McDonald's decides to do,'' Shadroui said when asked if the hospital planned to return the money.

McDonald's spokesman Walt Riker said the company stands by its gift and has no plans to stop the payments.

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